Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Winners and Losers from Last Night's Democratic Debate

Last night's Democratic Debate in Philadelphia provided the most dialogue. Along with the YouTube Debate, this one was the best debate so far this election.

Here are my thoughts on the winners and losers of the debate...

Chris Dodd - He seemed the most presidential and stressed his leadership and experience. He successfully drew distinctions with Clinton and questioned her electability without sounding like he was on the attack. He mentioned the need for public financing of campaigns.

John Edwards - He pressed Clinton all night on her double talk on numerous issues and stayed on message. He made strong points against the culture of Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests and tied that to Clinton's campaign. He had a great line about Hillary's vote on Iran...

So.. to put pressure on the Bush Administration is ... to vote yes on a resolution that [looked as if it] was written by the neocons? Has anyone read this thing?

Bill Richardson- He stressed his experience as a diplomat and his plan for Iraq. He probably gained points by taking the high road when he said Democrats are close to personal attacks on Clinton and we need to focus on the differences on the issues.

Joe Biden - He had the best line of the night about Rudy's experience. You could tell that Biden sees the big picture on terrorism when he was discussing Iran and Pakistan, but at times seemed to be in the background.

Barack Obama - He attempted to draw distinctions with Clinton, but seemed to feel uncomfortable doing so all night. Had a good line about Rocky, but stumbled through it.

Hillary Clinton - She was taking heat from Edwards, Obama, and Dodd all night on numerous issues. She really stumbled on the question about giving driver licenses to illegal immigrants and was called out on it by Edwards.

Dennis Kucinich - Made strong statements in favor of beginning impeachment procedures on Bush and Cheney and defending the constitution. However, he lost all credibility on the UFO question at the end of the debate.

During the post debate coverage, Chris Matthews, Howard Fineman, and Andrea Mitchell were amazed at Clinton's stumble on the driver license question and how the other candidates went after her on her Iran vote. In past debates, the talking heads have always seemed to think Clinton clearly won, but not this time.

Matthews was obsessed with the UFO question and Kucinich's response and kept bringing it up while interviewing Richardson and Biden. Matthews said the Republicans are the anti-evolution party and the Democrats are the pro-UFO party. Funny, but unfortunate that one silly question was the focus on a pretty interesting debate.

A Noun, A Verb, and 9/11

The best line of last night's debate was made Joe Biden, when talking about Rudy Giuliani's experience to be President...

I mean think about it, Rudy Giuliani, there’s only three things he mentions in a sentence — a noun and a verb and 9/11 and I mean, there’s nothing else. There’s nothing else.
For proof, just look at how Rudy answered a question about aids while campaigning in Cedar Rapids over the summer.

Edwards wins New Hampshire SEIU Endorsement

John Edwards has won the New Hampshire SEIU endorsement, which is big news on its own. Even more important for Edwards is that this means the 90,000 SEIU members from neighboring Massachusetts, where SEIU has also endorsed Edwards, can come to New Hampshire to help out.

SEIU didn't endorse nationally, but state groups can help campaign in other states that have endorsed the same candidate.

This is the 12th state SEIU group to endorse Edwards, including Iowa, and includes nearly one million voters.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Man Shot by His Own Dog

I wonder if the dog's name is Cheney.

A hunter is recovering after he was shot in the leg at close range by his dog, who stepped on his shotgun and tripped the trigger, an official said Tuesday.

James Harris, 37, of Tama, was hit in the calf Saturday, the opening day of pheasant season, said Alan Foster, a spokesman with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

"He had surgery and is doing pretty well," he said. "He took between 100-120 pellets in about a 4-inch circle to his calf."

Don't Think of a Sick Child

George Lakoff, author of Don't Think of an Elephant, wrote a piece for Salon about SCHIP called Don't Think of a Sick Child that I just read. Lakoff makes an important point about health insurance.

Health insurance companies make their money by denying care. They maximize profit by authorizing as little care as they can get away with. That's what all those administrative costs -- as high as 30 percent -- and all that paperwork are mostly about. It takes a lot of people to justify denying care.

It's the opposite of the way the market is supposed to work: Make more money by delivering more product. The health insurance industry makes more money by delivering less product. It maximizes profits by minimizing care.

Profit-run medicine is not, and cannot be, full care. What is needed is patient- and doctor-run medicine. The State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) is just that. Our children need care. Our doctors provide it. The government handles the transactions, period. And we pay a lot less and get a lot more, because there are virtually no administrative costs and no profits being taken by outsiders.

Profit-maximizing insurance, as opposed to doctor-provided care, forces the nation to choose among its children: who will get care and who won't, who will suffer and who won't, who will live and who will die.

Lakoff then explains why need programs like SCHIP...

Government in America has a sacred moral mission to protect us, its citizens. Protection means more than the military and the police. It means worker protection, consumer protection, environmental protection and Social Security. And it means health security.

President Bush warns us against "government-run" healthcare, which is anything but government run. In SCHIP, the government doesn't deliver care, it enables it. It directs payments. Bush wants to leave the nation's children -- and the rest of us -- to the mercy of profit-run healthcare. The reason we need SCHIP is that profit-run healthcare has failed.

Feingold's Ally on Iraq

Longtime readers of this blog know that I am a big supporter of Sen. Russ Feingold and had hoped he had entered the Presidential race.

This story from a campaign memo emailed out by the Chris Dodd campaign caught my attention...


U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., has been a true hero in the struggle to bring an honorable end to the nightmare that is the American occupation of Iraq.

But he has not stood alone.

When the Senate has voted on questions of using the power of the purse to constrain President Bush's war of whim, Feingold has had the support of most of the Democratic senators who are seeking the presidency. But don't think that the front-runners, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, came willingly.

Clinton and Obama sent decidedly mixed signals early on.

Then Chris Dodd YouTubed them. Using new technologies to produce and distribute video messages that left no space for the leaders in the race to dance around the debate on forcing Bush to bring troops home from Iraq, Dodd forced Clinton and Obama to do the right thing.

Dodd, the Connecticut senator who is a long-shot contender for the party's nod in 2008, used a YouTube video early in May to highlight his support for Feingold's plan to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq within 120 days. That video, and associated TV ads in early caucus and primary states, led Clinton and Obama, who had been wavering, to join 27 other Democrats who voted to advance Feingold's exit strategy.

After Clinton, Obama, and Edwards failed to say if all our troops would be out of Iraq by 2013, I started to look harder at other candidates. Like Feingold, Dodd's leadership on many important issues in the Senate has stood out.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Huckabee's Finally Raising Some Money

I am not a believer that the candidate with the most money will win, but I do know that you need some money to run an effective campaign. Huckabee was unable to turn his 2nd place finish at the Iowa Straw poll into much money during the 3rd quarter. That is why I haven't been putting much faith into Huckabee's rise in recent polls in Iowa.

However, Marc Ambinder is reporting that Huckabee has increased his fundraising in October by raising nearly $30,000 each day.

The campaign set a goal of $1,034,487 by midnigh ton October 31 -- a Million for Mike. Even one dollar -- "A Buck for Huck" -- is welcomed by the campaign.

The fundraising email states a goal of having $1.7M in the bank by end of November.

Huckabee has some momentum and if he can get money to run some ads in Iowa and organize a solid ground game then he could gain momentum coming out of Iowa.

No Child Left Behind Hurts Kids, Teachers, Education

T.M. Lindsey has an interesting story about our education system over at Iowa Independent about an event with Jonathon Kozol, an award winning author. Kozol had some truthful comments about the No Child Left Behind act...

Jonathan Kozol's contributions to public education and role in exposing the educational inequities between the rich and poor have left big footprints in our nation's public education narrative. Kozol, a 71-year-old Boston native, addressed a room full of educators, administrators and prospective educators at the Marriott Hotel in Coralville Tuesday. The event, co-sponsored by Prairie Lights Bookstore and The Iowa City Public School, was billed as a reading of Kozol's new book, "Letters to a New Young Teacher," but the real elephant in the room, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), could not be ignored.

"I have a theory about No Child Left Behind," Kozol told more than 400 people who gathered to hear his reading. "I believe the right wing's agenda underlying No Child Left Behind is not to help students on the bottom end of the spectrum, but to serve as more of a shaming ritual in the public spectrum to soften the ground for vouchers."

How Does a January 3rd Caucus Date Affect Young Voters?

From Political Wire...

Iowa's January 3 caucus date -- "11 days earlier than first anticipated and the earliest in state history -- means that most Iowa college students will still be soaking up holiday break when the caucuses kick into gear," the Des Moines Register reports.

"Some observers believe that's bad news because many of those students have already registered to vote in the cities where their schools are located and are less likely to make the effort to caucus once they are home.

"But others say the change is a political windfall that will scatter potentially thousands of young voters into virtually every area of the state, where they can advocate for their preferred candidate."
Someone from the Obama campaign also noted that Iowans who attend college out of the state will be home over winter break and be able to vote. More importantly though, college student won't be clustered in a few precints, but will be spread around. This could make a big difference in rural areas where a few people can change the results.

That's a lot of Money

So, the Iraq occupation is going to cost US taxpayers $2.4 trillion.

Damn, that is a lot of money.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Where's Osama?

It is looking like the Bush Administration missed a chance to take out Osama bin Laden, the man responsible for the attacks on 9/11. You know, the guy Bush wanted dead or alive.

Don't listen to me, just check out Fox News...

Col. David Hunt (ret.) on (I’m citing the relevant portion if you don’t want to give them the hits):

Besides, these things are of little consequence when you realize how we missed, squandered, screwed up, made a mess of and were massively risk adverse - again - when we did not kill Usama bin Laden in Afghanistan just two short months ago.

We know, with a 70 percent level of certainty - which is huge in the world of intelligence - that in August of 2007, bin Laden was in a convoy headed south from Tora Bora. We had his butt, on camera, on satellite. We were listening to his conversations. We had the world’s best hunters/killers - Seal Team 6 - nearby. We had the world class Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) coordinating with the CIA and other agencies. We had unmanned drones overhead with missiles on their wings; we had the best Air Force on the planet, begging to drop one on the terrorist. We had him in our sights; we had done it. Nice job again guys - now, pull the damn trigger.

Unbelievably, and in my opinion, criminally, we did not kill Usama bin Laden.

You cannot make this crap up; truth is always stranger and more telling than fiction. Our government, the current administration and yes, our military leaders included, failed to kill bin Laden for no other reason than incompetence.

The current “boneheads” in charge will tell you all day long that we are fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan to stop terrorists there so they do not come here. Nice talk, how about - just for a moment - acting like you mean what you say? You know walk the walk. These incidents, where we displayed a total lack of guts, like the one in August, are just too prevalent. The United States of America’s political and military leadership has, on at least three separate occasions, chosen not capture or kill bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahri. We have allowed Pakistan to become a safe haven for Al Qaeda. We have allowed Al Qaeda to reconstitute, partially because of money they (Al Qaeda in Iraq) have been sending to Al Qaeda in Pakistan.

Amazing, simply amazing.

Edwards Calls on Iowans to Pledge to Not Caucus for Anyone Who Takes Lobbyist Money

At a campaign stop at the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown on Saturday afternoon, John Edwards drew strong distinctions between him and Hillary Clinton by calling on Iowans to pledge to not caucus for anyone who takes money from lobbyists.

Edwards said trading corporate Republicans for corporate Democrats won't fix the situation in Washington. Edwards announced that he has never taken money from Washington lobbyists, which drew loud applause from the crowd of over 200. Edwards told the audience that they can do something about this by pledging to not caucus for anyone who takes money from lobbyists. Edwards used a Rural American Forum that Hillary Clinton recently held at Monsanto's Lobbying Headquarters in Washington DC as an example of what is wrong...

I'm not sure where they got the people from, but if I want to talk to rural Americans I come to Iowa.
Earlier in the day, Sen. Edwards campaigned in his 99th county this year, making him the first candidate to campaign in every county in the state this election cycle.

The overriding theme of Edwards stop was that our nation is better than this. He began his speech talking about the recent documentary about World War II by Ken Burns and cited the incredible accomplishments and sacrifices Americans made. He said Americans today have responded in amazing ways to Katrina and to 9/11. However, little progress has been made with over half the schools in New Orleans still closed and a hole in the ground still at ground zero. Edwards cited two factors for this. First, corruption in Government that is demonstrated by no bid contracts. The second reason is trade policies that favor corporations over worker's rights and environmental standards.

Edwards took a half dozen questions from the audience. The first question was about health care. Edwards outlined the basics of his health care plan and then started talking about the need to care for our Veterans, which drew very loud applause from the crowd at the Iowa Veterans Home. Edwards said we need to have guaranteed funding for the Veterans Administration. Another line concerning health care from Edwards that garnered loud applause was when he said he would tell Congress, members of his administration, including the Cabinet, that if they don't pass a health care bill, so every American would be covered, by July of 2009 then he will use his power as President and take their health care coverage away.

An interesting question came from a man who is the son of a UAW worker about a quote from Sen. Edwards book, Home, about the dignity of hard worker Sen. Edwards learned working in the mill in the summers when he was growing up. Sen. Edwards responded by saying...
Today we glorify those who make millions and those aren't the ones who have made American great, it is those who work hard everyday that have made American great. It is time to show respect and dignity to those that work for a living.
Edwards closed by saying all the candidates have their policy statements, but what really matters is who the voters can trust. He said President Bush has squandered the trust of the American people and the world and it is vital that our next President can be trusted.

Friday, October 26, 2007

War with Iran

I went out to lunch yesterday and the talk on NPR and conservative talk radio was all about going to war with Iran.

Here's Sen. Jim Webb discussing this on Hardball yesterday.

Richardson Standing Tough on CAFO's

Bill Richardson is taking a tough stand on CAFO's.

From my inbox...

Richardson Decries Failure of Senate Ag Committee to Limit CAFOs

Praises Harkin Effort to Reform EQIP Payments for Family Farmers

DES MOINES , IA --- Presidential candidate New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson today criticized action taken by the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee to defeat a needed reform of federal payments that would have promised more equity for smaller, independent hog producers in Iowa . In a mark-up of the 2007 Farm Bill, senators voted down an amendment offered by Senator Tom Harkin that would have lowered the cap on total cost share payments for CAFOs (confined-animal feedlot operations), from $450,000 to $240,000 per contract. The action denies thousands of family farmers important assistance for environmentally-sound operations.

“The Senate today missed an important opportunity to help family farmers in rural America , and especially in Iowa ,” said Governor Bill Richardson. “We should not be funding CAFOs more than $240,000 per contract, because there is not enough money in this program to get equity for family farmers at a higher rate. As President, I will fight to get help for the thousands of small and independent producers and farmers whose applications have been denied under current failed policies. Government needs to be on the side of the family farmer.”

Thursday, October 25, 2007

SCHIP to be Voted on Again Today

From Daily Kos...

You've got to like any article that describes the Republicans as, "taken by surprise," and where they, "excoriated Democratic leaders":

Just one week after failing to override President Bush's veto, House Democrats will put a new version of their $35 billion expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program to a vote today, hoping that minor changes will win enough Republicans to beat Bush this round. [...]

At a contentious House GOP meeting with Leavitt on Tuesday night, wavering Republicans pledged that they would stand with the president. But others quietly voiced concerns that the SCHIP showdown is taking a toll on their political prospects.

Decisions, decisions. Vote for a bill that has the overwhelming support of the American people or stand with Mr. 24% and endanger your own job security? What's a rubber stamp Republican to do?

School Vouchers Don't Solve Anything

Ezra Klein tells why school vouchers don't work...

white parents fleeing pockets of poverty is not an argument for school vouchers. What they're fleeing is the poverty -- which, at a certain density, dissolves just about any school. If everyone had a voucher, there would still be concentrated poverty in DC, and thus in its schools, and white parents would still move away so they could easily send their kids to other schools. What they're seeking is economic segregation, not school choice. And the way you achieve that is move away from poor areas. Which is something that school vouchers would not, sadly, allow poor families to do.
Instead of school vouchers, we need to do something to end poverty.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

New TV Ad Highlights RIchardson's Experience

Bill Richardson has a new TV ad that highlights his ability and courage as a diplomat. It is a strong statement that shows Richardson has the experience to change America and understand foreign relations in a complex world.

Consumer Advocate Opposes Interstate Power and Light Company Proposed Coal Plant

I heard this on Iowa Public Radio this morning and recieved this press release in my inbox...

Consumer Advocate urges company to evaluate more cost-effective and environmentally sound supply resources.

The Iowa Consumer Advocate has filed testimony with the Iowa Utilities Board, recommending that the IUB reject Interstate Power and Light's application for authority to site a 630-megawatt coal-fired generating unit (SGS Unit 4) adjacent to Interstate's existing Sutherland Generating Station in Marshalltown, Iowa. Interstate is a subsidiary of Alliant Energy of Madison, Wisconsin.

"When the risks to consumers and the public associated with building a new coal-fired power plant are properly taken into account, the advantages are clearly demonstrated of Interstate Power meeting its supply needs through lower-cost and environmentally-friendly energy efficiency and renewable energy generation resources," said Consumer Advocate John R.

The Office of Consumer Advocate filed the testimony with the IUB late Monday. The OCA represents gas, electric and telephone utility consumers generally and the public generally in all proceedings before the Iowa Utilities Board.

Expert testimony submitted by the Consumer Advocate interpreting current scientific analysis and consensus argues that the proposed coal plant would inject enormous amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for 50 years or more, contributing to a worsening of the dangerous buildup of greenhouse gases in the earth's atmosphere and to accelerated global climate change for centuries to come.

According to the testimony, emissions from the proposed plant would be equivalent to the CO2 emissions from about 740,000 additional cars– an additional 40% of current emissions today from all of the cars registered in the state in 2005.

Human-induced climate change presents a grave and increasing threat to the environment and to human societies around the world, according to the testimony. The primary source of increasing atmospheric CO2 is the combustion of fossil fuels by industrialized societies. Unless squarely addressed by effective public policy, the increasing buildup of atmospheric greenhouse gases will likely cause dramatic environmental and economic harm to societies around the world, including communities in Iowa. Policymakers within and beyond Iowa are evaluating policies to achieve electricity production by less carbon-intensive or zero-carbon means, the testimony

"The proposed coal plant stands in stark contrast to this goal," Perkins said. "Undertaking construction of a coal plant in these circumstances presents an enormous risk for IPL's customers and the environment – a risk that is unnecessary. Moreover, our recommendations
would allow for the potential development of cleaner energy sources which may occur over the next decade and eliminate the need for a baseload coal plant in the future."

Perkins said that in the course of the OCA's detailed analysis of Interstate's electric resource planning model, OCA's experts determined that IPL failed to properly model the costs of CO2 regulation and other energy resource potentials. Adjusting for these errors, the OCA experts
concluded, IPL can defer the need for the base load coal plant beyond the planned 2013 in-service date of SGS-Unit 4. Energy efficiency and wind generation would be a more cost-effective means of meeting Interstate's energy needs, and with little to no adverse environmental impact, Perkins said.

"Energy efficiency and renewable energy resources actually deliver greater and more evenly distributed economic benefits to the State of Iowa than the proposed coal plant," Perkins said. "Removing IPL's modeling constraints that limited Interstate's wind generation capacity to 9.1 % of its projected retail energy needs in 2022, and allowing the model to increase wind generation to 25 percent of IPL's retail energy needs, would result in 1,657 MW of wind in 2022, or 1,039 megawatts more than IPL assumes in its base resource plan. Similar environmentally sound results will accrue from increased investment in energy efficiency."

Romeny Calls Barack Osama, Obama Responds

First, Romney calls Clinton's health care plan socialist and something Karl Marx would be proud of when her plan is very similar to his health care plan in Massachusetts and now this.

Mitt Romney today, in Greenville:

Actually, just look at what Osam, uh, Barack Obama, said just yesterday. Barack Obama calling on radicals, jihadists of all different types, to come together in Iraq. That is the battlefield. That is the central place, he said. Come join us under one banner."

Bill Burton, Obama's campaign spokesman, responds:

"Apparently, Mitt Romney can switch names just as casually as he switches positions, but what's wrongheaded is continuing a misguided war in Iraq that has left America less safe. It's time to end the divisiveness and fear-mongering that is at the heart of Governor Romney's campaign."
When you don't have any ideas to run on, I guess you resort to name calling.

The Reason Hillary Clinton is Leading National Polls

The reason Hillary Clinton is leading national polls is that she has high name recognition.

A new Pew Research survey finds that 78% can name Sen. Hillary Clinton when prompted to "tell me the names of any candidates who are running for the Democratic nomination for President," while 62% can name Sen. Barack Obama and 28% can name John Edwards.
It doesn't have anything to do with her policies or the fact that she is a woman. People know who she is.

Entitlement Hysteria

Here's an interesting article about the entitlement hysteria with Social Security and Medicare. It says Social Security is not an enormous problem that Medicare is. To solve Medicare what we really need to do is solve the health care problem..

Should they stop being hysterical about Social Security and start being hysterical about Medicare? Well, that would be a start, but it would still elide the deeper problem. The reason Medicare is in such worse shape than Social Security is that it has to account for exploding health care costs. Their focus on demographics and greedy baby boomers is entirely misplaced. Indeed, the "entitlement problem" is mostly--three-quarters, to be precise--a function of rising health care costs.

Since you can't solve the entitlement problem without solving the health care problem, one might think that the entitlement hysterics would have gradually moved on to becoming health care hysterics. (There's also the fact that Social Security is solvent until 2041, but over 40 million Americans lack health insurance right now.) Yet this is another puzzling thing about entitlement hysteria: the sheer persistence of the obsession. It's true we have some large federal programs that are going to have to be shored up. But why do they consider this to be a matter of such unique urgency? Put aside the war in Iraq, for which plenty of people (including me) lack any confident solution. In addition to the health care crisis, there's global warming. There are numerous loosely secured nuclear sites throughout the world, any one of which could some day provide the raw material for a terrorist attack of unprecedented scale. There are numerous diseases threatening the lives of millions of Africans whose deaths could be prevented at relatively modest expense.

These other calamities have one thing in common: The consequences of inaction are permanent. Carbon released into the atmosphere can never be recovered. Africans who die from aids can't be brought back to life. And fissile material captured by terrorists can't very easily be taken back.

Compared to such disasters, the entitlement nightmare scenario isn't so nightmarish. If we do absolutely nothing to fix Social Security, then, 35 years from now, the program will have to start paying out three-quarters benefits, or we'll have to raise taxes. It's not ideal, but it doesn't keep me awake at night.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What's Wrong With Kids These Days?

The New York Times's Thomas Friedman wrote an article that looks at why young people (what he calls Generation Q) aren't protesting in the streets.

America needs a jolt of the idealism, activism and outrage (it must be in there) of Generation Q. That’s what twentysomethings are for — to light a fire under the country. But they can’t e-mail it in, and an online petition or a mouse click for carbon neutrality won’t cut it. They have to get organized in a way that will force politicians to pay attention rather than just patronize them.

Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy didn’t change the world by asking people to join their Facebook crusades or to download their platforms. Activism can only be uploaded, the old-fashioned way — by young voters speaking truth to power, face to face, in big numbers, on campuses or the Washington Mall. Virtual politics is just that — virtual.

Courtney Martin counters at the American Prospect with an article called Generation Overwhelmed.

We are not apathetic. What we are, and perhaps this is what Friedman was picking up on, is totally and completely overwhelmed. One of the most critical questions of our time is one of attention. In a 24-7 news climate, it is all but impossible to emotionally engage all of the stories and issues you are taking in, and then act on them in some pragmatic way. So instead, young people become paralyzed. (It seems that all of us are a bit paralyzed. After all, what are Friedman's peers really doing? And aren't his peers the ones with the most straightforward kind of power?)

My generation tries to create lives that seem to match our values, but beyond that it's hard to locate a place to put our outrage. We aren't satisfied with point-and-click activism, as Friedman suggests, but we don't see other options. Many of us have protested, but we -- by and large -- felt like we were imitating an earlier generation, playing dress-up in our parents' old hippie clothes. I marched against the war and my president called it a focus group. The worst part was that I did feel inert while doing it. In the 21st century, a bunch of people marching down the street, complimenting one another on their original slogans and pretty protest signs, feels like self-flagellation, not real and true social change.

When Friedman was young and people were taking to the streets, there were a handful of issues to focus on and a few solid sources of news to pay attention to. Now there is a staggering amount of both. If I read the news today with my heart wide open and my mind engaged, I will be crushed. Do I address the injustices in Sudan, Iraq, Burma, Pakistan, the Bronx? Do I call an official, write a letter, respond to a request? None of it promises to be effective, and it certainly won't pacify my outrage.

This diary at Daily Kos by georgia10, says we aren't motivated by the childish name calling, slogans, and jokes that fill the political arena.

I cannot speak conclusively as to how previous generations have viewed our government--as an oppressor, as an adversary, etc. But I would venture to say that my generation views government as a complete joke.

After all, we grew up and came of age in an era where our "government" was defined by blow jobs, blue stained dresses, and Bushisms. We have come of age in a time where political discourse revolves around childhood taunts and bumper sticker slogans. We have been shaped by an era of political absurdity, where government is neither threatening nor worthy of respect, but is rather viewed as a tragic parody of what once was the greatest system of governance.

Friedman fails to appreciate that as a result of this, there is no compelling need among youth to "rise up" and "fight against" disastrous government because this joke of a government we've grown up with doesn't call for antagonism--it calls for ridicule and, ultimately, reform.

And so, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert and the Onion thrive. And so, we suffer through incompetence by turning to sarcasm and wit and, yes, cynicism to carry us through. We do so because it is much easier to laugh than to cry, much easier to embrace the carnival of it all than to contemplate the damage and its lasting impact.

Thus, there are no youth protests not because we are not angry, and not because we are tethered to our laptops and incapable of action in the offline world, but because this farce we call politics does not compel in our hearts the type of urgent action of generations past. Rather, we look upon our broken system and choose not to scream at the rubble, but to take it upon ourselves to promote social change in our own way.

So we volunteer. We join groups. We organize at the community level. We splinter off into thousands of glittering pockets of political change. We don't mobilize nationalize because there is no call, no sense of need to so.

Younger people are more serious these days than in the past. Some of this is forced upon us by demanding jobs, debt, and the complex nature of our world today. However, oftentimes we choose to be more serious than the debate that is going on in Washington. The vast majority of young people don't see the problem with two gay people that love each other, yet our elected officials debate this issue through taunts and name calling.

As georgia10 points out the good news is that young people are involved, but it is just not in the same way our parents got involved.
Young Americans are involved in many forms of political and civic activity. For example, 26% say they vote regularly (age 20-25 only); 36% have volunteered within the last year; and 30% have boycotted a product because of the conditions under which it was made or the values of the company that made it.
Young people just wish we could get down to solving the pressing issues we face instead of partisan bickering. We are just waiting for someone to ask us to get patriotic about something other than war.

Maybe Huckabee's Campaign Manager Can Donate Some Money

Mike Huckabee isn't raising much money, only raising $1 million in the 3rd quarter. However, Huckabee has the highest paid campaign manger on the Republican side.

Marc Ambinder takes a look at who the best paid campaign manager on the Republican side is...

Not Beth Myers, Mitt Romney's campaign manager, who takes home about $7,000 a month after taxes, or Michael DuHaime of the Giuliani campaign, who makes $14,386 per month after taxes... it's Chip Saltzman, Mike Huckabee's campaign manager, who makes about $15,000 per month.

Saltzman's estimated $250,000 per year is about seven percent of what Huckabee has raised to date -- $2,345,798.

Ron Paul On Defining Marriage

At Sunday's Republican debate in Florida, Ron Paul was asked about a constitutional ammendment to ban gay marriage.

Here is his answer...

Well, if you believe in federalism, it's better that we allow these things to be left to the state. My personal belief is that marriage is a religious ceremony. And it should be dealt with religiously. The state really shouldn't be involved. The state, both federal and state-wise, got involved mostly for health reasons 100 years or so ago.

But this should be a religious matter. All voluntary associations, whether they're economic or social, should be protected by the law. But to amend the Constitution is totally unnecessary to define something that's already in the dictionary.

We do know what marriage is about. We don't need a new definition or argue over a definition and have an amendment to the Constitution. To me, it just seems so unnecessary to do that. It's very simply that the states should be out of that business, and the states -- I mean, the states should be able to handle this. The federal government should be out of it.

I pretty much agree with Rep. Paul's answer. Marriage is a church issue and the government should be left out of it. All the rights should be equal under the law and church's should then decide based on their own doctrine who should and shouldn't be allowed to marry.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Right-wing Facebook

My addiction to Facebook peaked over the summer. Now I only check it once a day. However, I still found this Republican Facebook parody site pretty hilarious.

Here's a taste of what's on the site....

profile change Fred Thompson added "Convincing everyone my presidential run isn't really Method-style research for a movie role" to his Interests.

person icon John McCain is appealing to Ron Paul for fundraising tips.

person icon Rudy Giuliani is wondering how he can fit 9/11 into a speech about agriculture policy.

person icon Mitt Romney is shredding some old speeches.

Group Mitt Romney joined the group "Pro-Lifers."

Group Mitt Romney left the group "Pro-Choicers."

The Oath of Office

You often hear politicians say there number one duty is to protect the American people and they are flat out wrong. All you have to do is read what it says in the oath of office to figure out what their number one duty is while in office.

Chris Dodd wrote about this at Huffington Post and tells why it is vital to support the constitution and explains why is planning to stop Bush's domestic spying under the FISA law.

As required by Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution, Members of Congress are bound to support the Constitution. We take the following oath: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter."

As the representatives of the American people, our job is in many ways quite simple: to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic." There's no question in my mind that Democrats were given a majority in both the House and the Senate based on their promises to change the course of the country. We were elected to strengthen the nation by ending this war, restoring our standing in the world and returning the nation to an adherence to the rule of law. An integral part of that mandate was to reverse and stop the Bush Administration's assault on the Constitution.

Yet, we today are faced with the possibility that the Senate will see a renewal of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that enables the Bush Administration to broadly eavesdrop on American citizens and provides for retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies that helped them violate civil liberties and the law.

The Constitution of the United States belongs to the American people, not to the Bush administration. It is our responsibility as Senators and Congressmen to stand up and fight for it.

That's why I announced last week that I would put a "hold" on any FISA reform legislation that includes retroactive immunity for telecom companies -- and why, if my hold is not honored for some reason by the Senate Leadership, I pledge to filibuster to stop telecom amnesty from becoming law.

I am grateful someone is standing up for the constitution.

Yepsen Outlines Edwards' Strengths in Iowa

Last Thursday, the Des Moines Register's David Yepsen wrote about John Edwards' strengths in Iowa. Yepsen writes that Edwards has been a fixture in Iowa's rural counties...

He spends more time in Iowa than his rivals. (His wife jokes that if someone asked the couple for directions in Iowa, they could provide them.)

While Obama and Clinton have only recently discovered the fact that 49 percent of Iowa's Democratic caucus-goers live in rural and small-town Iowa, Edwards has been mining those tiny lodes for years.
Edwards uses his background of growing up in a small town to connect with voters in rural areas and Yepsen sees this as one of Edwards' biggest strengths...
Perhaps the best argument for Edwards' candidacy is his potential for electability. While Clinton and Obama make the case they could attract new voters, like women and minorities, in a general-election fight the case for Edwards is that he's not as risky. He doesn't have the polarizing negatives Clinton has and is a more seasoned candidate than Obama, though some of his positions smack of class war. His campaign believes he would help congressional Democratic candidates.

Edwards has argued he could attract votes just about anywhere in the country. And as y'all know, Democrats historically don't win the White House without a Southerner on the ticket.

Romney Plans to Bully Teens to Not Have Out-of-Wedlock Babies

I was watching CSPAN and saw some of Mitt Romney's speech at the Family Research Council's Values Voter Summit on Friday. Romney talked about the need for people to have babies when they are married and said that he would use the bully pulpit of the Presidency to solve this issue. He said it would be his wife, Ann's mission to reduce the number of out-of-wedlock babies born.

Romney didn't mention any ways he would accomplish this except to use the bully pulpit, as if teenagers listen well to strict parents who tell them what they should or shouldn't be doing.

At the forum, which was sponspored by the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family, Romney had negative things to say about teaching sexual education in schools, saying that should be left to the family. Romney also failed to mention anything about the importance of using contraception.

I totally agree that we are better off if children are born in a stable family environment. Young people having children before getting married isn't good for the child or the young person because it makes it more difficult for them to go onto college. To solve this problem you either have to change the culture or provide the resources so teens can make better choices. This can be done through education and the use of contraception.

However, if you are against sexual education and against contraception, then how are you planning on reducing the number of out-of-wedlock babies?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

What Will Culver Do About Coal Plants? Kansas Governor Denies New Coal Plants

On Thursday, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius denied the permits for two coal-fired power plants that were proposed to be built in western Kansas. Gov. Sebelius cited that coal would take the state in the wrong direction and the need to invest in renewable energy.

Here is a statement from Sebelius...

Kansas utility companies, including Sunflower Electric, have done a great job providing reliable energy to Kansans. What has become clear, however, is that Kansas must take advantage of renewable energy and conservation as we progress through this century.

These additional coal plants would have moved us in the wrong direction and far exceed the critical power needs for Kansas homes and businesses. In fact, eighty-five percent of the power proposed to be generated would be sold to customers, not in Kansas but in states like Colorado and Texas. These coal plants would have produced 11 million additional tons of carbon every year – 550 million tons of carbon over the lifetime of the project. Why should Kansans get one hundred percent of the pollution and threats to our health while only getting 15 percent of the energy? While there are some innovative technologies proposed as companions to these coal plants, none will significantly diminish the carbon impact of two new coal plants in our state.

Governor Culver has been a big supporter of renewable energy. He ran on a platform of making Iowa the renewable energy center of the world and his biggest achievement during his first year in office was the creation of the Iowa Power Fund that would invest in renewable energy throughout the state.

However, Culver and Lt. Governor Patty Judge have supported two coal-fired power plants that are being proposed in Waterloo and in Marshalltown. If these two plants are built the pollution from the coal plants would offset much of the gains Culver has made in renewable energy.

If Culver really wants to make Iowa a renewable energy center then he should follow Gov. Sebelius' lead and deny permits to these plants.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Early States are Even More Important

Political Wire is reporting that the early states are even more important this time around because the large states have moved up in the nominating schedule...

For months, politicians in big states like California, Florida and Michigan have griped about their lack of influence in the 2008 presidential race, pushing up their primaries to try to diminish the sway of Iowa and New Hampshire," the Los Angeles Times reports. "Now, thanks to those efforts, Iowa and New Hampshire appear more important than ever."
This has been my feeling all along.

Friday, October 19, 2007

So Why Not Dodd?

After the last Democratic debate in New Hampshire when Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards couldn't say for sure if all the troops would be out of Iraq by 2013, more than 5 years from now, I began looking at all the candidates once again.

Over at Open Left, they ask so why not Chris Dodd?

Chris Dodd has put together an impressive list of accomplishments and issue positions during the past year. Here are some of them:

Who Will Brownback Endorse?

With Sam Brownback dropping out of the Presidential race today, the question then turns to who he will endorse. Marc Ambinder thinks it will be McCain or Giuliani. I could see Brownback supporting McCain because they have worked together in the Senate for years, however Brownback doesn't necessarily line up on the issues with McCain and Giuliani.

The candidate that is most in line with Brownback on the issues is Mike Huckabee. However, Huckabee and Brownback had a hard fought and sometime nasty fight in the Iowa Straw Poll.

Huckabee was asked last night about getting Brownback's support...

Asked by MSNBC's Tucker Carlson on Thursday if he will seek out Brownback's support, Huckabee said, "I'd love to talk to Sam. ... I don't know of many areas in which we're incompatible. I'd certainly love to have his support and that of his supporters. But that's something the senator will have to decide."

Can We Please Just Get Rid of This Guy?

Can we please just get rid of Steve King? This stunt he pulled during the debate on SCHIP is just childish name-calling that is based on no facts whatsoever.

From Daily Kos...
But when you're reduced to having your staff make up large visual aides to assist explaining your insults, I think perhaps satire won't cut it anymore, and we have to devolve to out-and-out mockery.

So fine. Let's play the game, Republican style. Representative Steve King, of Iowa's 5th District: you support al Qaeda. I don't have to prove it. I don't have to back it up. I just have to say it, and it becomes true. And now the debate can be about why you support al Qaeda. Is it because you are "soft on terrorism?" Is it because you are living in a "pre-9/11 mindset?" Is it because you "hate America?" It is because you were beaten senseless by river otters during your own sixth birthday party, and now harbor a deep grudge against our native American fauna? I don't know. I don't have to know, because all of America is now ruled by the Fox News Schoolyard Taunt. Blah blah blah, flag pin. Blah fart blah, unpatriotic. Blah fart cough, Hillarycare.

The truth of it is, if the Republicans could tie healthcare for children to an external enemy in need of retribution, they'd be all over it -- but unfortunately for America's children, you can't bomb car accidents. If they could tie the needs of children and families with crippling unforeseen medical expenses to an al Qaeda plot to harm those children, they'd find a way to divert a token one or two percent of the half-trillion dollars of Iraq War funding towards covering them all. Perhaps. Yes, if we made caring for our children an act of patriotism, perhaps the Republican Party would show some interest.

But for some reason, caring for our children isn't considered patriotic, and so those children can go rot.

Steve King is in favor of border fences. Maybe we can put a fence between Iowa and Nebraska and send King to Ogallala, Nebraska on a long weekend.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Forget Obama, Looking to Dodd To Take the Big Shots

Kos has some strong statements for Obama about actually standing up on key issues instead of just talking about change. The issue at question is the FISA bill that would allow immunity to telecom companies that broke the law and Chris Dodd being the only candidate/Senator that is speaking out on it.

Losing faith in Obama.

If you look around the liberal blogs today, there's a lot of frustration with the Senate bill to grant immunity to telecoms who have helped the Bush administration illegally spy on Americans. High profile bloggers like Glenn Greenwald, Markos Moulitsas, Atrios, Jane Hamsher, and Big Tent Democrat at MyDD have been urging their readers to put pressure on the Senate to block the bill by contacting...Chris Dodd.

If anyone from the Obama campign is paying attention, this should serve as a wake-up call. A representative cross section of the liberal blogosphere no longer thinks Barack Obama is willing to stand up to the Bush Administration [...]

The Obama campaign has been playing it safe for months now, so it should be no surprise that the base no longer expects him to, in the words of his campaign, "challenge the status quo and get results". It's not too late for Obama to turn things around. I still think Obama would make a fantastic president, but if he wants his grassroots-fueled campaign to regain some momentum, he needs to start by recognizing that people no longer see him as the go-to guy to buck the Washington establishment and be a champion for change.

Yeah, for a guy who claims he's going to "challenge the status quo", Obama sure as heck has done none of that as of late.

I'm tired of words. At this point, the only thing that speaks is action.

Dodd is putting a hold on the FISA bill, where he released this statement...
The Military Commissions Act. Warrantless wiretapping. Shredding of Habeas Corpus. Torture. Extraordinary Rendition. Secret Prisons.

No more.

I have decided to place a "hold" on the latest FISA bill that would have included amnesty for telecommunications companies that enabled the President's assault on the Constitution by illegaly providing personal information on their customers without judicial authorization.

I said that I would do everything I could to stop this bill from passing, and I have.

It's about delivering results -- and as I've said before, the FIRST thing I will do after being sworn into office is restore the Constitution. But we shouldn't have to wait until then to prevent the further erosion of our country's most treasured document. That's why I am stopping this bill today.
It seems Edwards and Dodd (and sometimes even Richardson and Biden) have been consistently leading on the issues this campaign, while it seems Clinton and Obama are reacting and playing it safe. Obama has lead on lobbysist reforms, but that was a key issue in the 2006 election and not in the 2008 election. For Obama to break out, he might to take hold of another key issue this campaign and make it his own.

Brownback to Drop out of the Race Tomorrow

Sam Brownback is going to drop out of the race for the Republican nomination for President tomorrow.

From the Politico...

Republican Sam Brownback will drop out of the 2008 presidential campaign on Friday, people close to the Kansas senator said Thursday.

Trouble raising money was a main reason for his decision, said one person close to Brownback, who requested anonymity because the candidate had not yet announced his plans.

Brownback, a lesser-known conservative contender, is expected announce his withdrawal in Topeka, Kan.

The senator is widely expected to seek the Kansas governor's office in 2010, when his term - his second - expires. He had promised in his first Senate campaign to serve no more than two terms.

Confessions of an Economic Hitman Tonight at Iowa State

John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hitman, will be speaking tonight at Iowa State. The event takes place at the Sun Room in the Memorial Union at 8:00.

Here's some more information about Perkins...

John Perkins detailed his former role as an economic hit man in a book by the same name. His job was to convince Third World countries to accept enormous loans for infrastructure development - loans that were much larger than needed - and to guarantee that the development projects were contracted to U.S. corporations like Halliburton and Bechtel. He contends that once these countries were saddled with huge debts, the U.S. government and the international aid agencies allied with it were able to control these economies and to ensure that oil and other resources were channeled to serve the interests of building a global empire. In his new book, The Secret History of the American Empire: Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and the Truth About Global Corruption, he draws on interviews with other hit men, jackals, reporters, government officials, and activists, to examine the current geopolitical crisis.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ron Paul, Ethanol, and the Environment

Andrew Sullivan takes a look at an interview Grist Magazine did with Ron Paul...

Grist's Amanda Griscom Little asks the question with a certain amount of trepidation. I loved this preamble:

Some of [Paul's] ideas arguably have environmental merit. Paul is known for his zealous opposition to the Iraq war, which he duly notes causes pollution and the "burning of fuel for no good purpose." He wants to yank all subsidies and R&D funding from the energy sector, which many believe would benefit the growth of renewables. A cyclist himself, he has cosponsored bills that would offer tax breaks to Americans who commute by bicycle and use public transportation. Still, his libertarian presidency would, among other things, allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, boost the use of coal, and embrace nuclear power. Moreover, it wouldn't do diddly about global warming because, Paul reasons, "we're not going to be very good at regulating the weather."

Then onto the interview on energy, where my favorite passage is his goal of removing subsidies from energy companies (take that, Cheney!):

If we're running out of hydrocarbon, the price will go up. If we had a crisis tomorrow [that cut our oil supply in half], people would drive half as much -- something would happen immediately. Somebody would come up with alternative fuels rather quickly.

Today, the government decides and they misdirect the investment to their friends in the corn industry or the food industry. Think how many taxpayer dollars have been spent on corn [for ethanol], and there's nobody now really defending that as an efficient way to create diesel fuel or ethanol. The money is spent for political reasons and not for economic reasons. It's the worst way in the world to try to develop an alternative fuel.

I can see merits in what Paul is saying about providing incentives to oil companies and for the ethanol industry. However, thinking that a solution will just suddenly appear if the price of oil doubled is basically wishing upon a star that will just leave us bummed out because we don't have electricity to run our TV to watch our Disney movies.

The problem now isn't we are passing out incentives, the problem is we don't really have a plan for our energy future.

Who are Iowa Democrats Giving Money to?

The Des Moines Register has a story about how much money candidates have raised from Iowans.

Here's the info on the Democratic candidates...

Among the Democratic candidates, Clinton, a U.S. senator from New York, is in first place, taking in more than $126,000 to date.

Her top contributors include prominent Democratic activists in Des Moines such as Ed and Bonnie Campbell; lawyer Jerry Crawford; former Gov. Tom Vilsack; and Andrea McGuire.

More than 70 percent of Clinton's money has come from Des Moines and its western suburbs.

Closely trailing Clinton with nearly $117,000 from Iowans is U.S. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, while former U.S. Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina is in third place with more than $105,000.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has collected close to $42,000 from Iowans, and U.S. Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware about $26,000. Iowans have given U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut and U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio about $10,000 each. Former Sen. Mike Gravel of Alaska has collected $415.

So When Will Iowa Democrats Caucus?

Yesteday, Iowa Republicans decided on January 3rd as the date of the Republican caucuses in Iowa. Iowa Democrats have yet to decide if they will be changing the date from January 14th.

"the Democrats could decide to hold their contest on Jan. 5, forcing political observers to split their attention for the first time. Democrats yesterday were still holding out that option, with party spokeswoman Carrie Giddens saying only that the state Democrats are 'planning for a January caucus.
Personally, I don't like the idea of Democrats and Republicans having separate caucus dates, though it would provide an interesting aspect strategy wise for field organizers. John Deeth interviewed Iowa Political Science professor, Dave Redlawsk, who said...
"Never mind the possibilities of mischief as some Republicans go to the Democratic caucuses and vice versa, there is likely to be confusion among Iowans, and ridicule from the press, who really won't like the need to gear up twice in Des Moines for results," he said. From a more partisan outlook, Redlawsk noted, "if the Democrats go second, the Republicans steal the thunder."
Political Wire is also reporting that New Hampshire might be moving their primary to December. Marc Ambinder provides some analysis, which isn't very positive for New Hampshire...

If Bill Gardner decides to schedule the New Hampshire primary for December, he risks not only the wrath of the entire two-party establishment (which isn't that scary), New Hampshire could very well be meaningless for one of the parties. Republicans, in particular, might cede the state to Mitt Romney. Democrats probably won't, but the style and pace of campaigning for the primary will feel more like a caucus: lots of trench warfare, confusing, muddled messages, appeals to secondary candidates, and dirty tricks. New Hampshire independents, in particular, will not have a candidate to revolt against. Rank and file Democrats won't have a candidate's victory to be influenced by.

But wait: maybe the three weeks between New Hampshire and Iowa and the relatively paltry amount of delegates awarded by the state will render the state entirely irrelevant. If you're putting all your resources into Iowa, it's probably a safer bet, at this point, to ignore New Hampshire entirely and hope that the New Hampshire winner's momentum attenuates over the long holiday period.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Live Lightly Tour

As part of Blog Action Day that is focusing on the blogging about the environment, climate change, and sustainability, I thought I would share information with you about the Live Lightly Tour.

A Des Moines Family, Sara and Matt Janssen, and 3 year old Bella, took off on the Live Lightly tour on September 17th in an RV that has gone through an environmentally friendly remodel and runs on straight vegetable oil. They are travelling the country for the next year to help educate people on sustainable living and tour the US while they are at it.

I had a chance to meet the Janssen's at the Iowa Renewable Energy Expo before they headed off. They seem to cool people with a really cool idea to tour the US.

The family is currently in Portland, Maine. You can read more about the trip on Sara's blog and see pictures here.

Sara has a blog post up with reflections of their first month on the road.

Paging Real Sporer

Mr. Sporer,

Since you always seem to have a comment on anything I post related to Iraq or terrorism, would you care to comment on this or this?

Obama: Religous Beliefs Say to Protect the Environment

While speaking in Des Moines on Sunday, Barack Obama spoke about how caring for the environment is shown in your religous beliefs.

Speaking at what he termed an interfaith forum on climate change, the Illinois senator said God has entrusted humans with the responsibility to care for the Earth, and "we are not acting as good stewards of God's Earth when our bottom line puts the size of our profits before the future of our planet."

"It is our responsibility to ensure that this planet remains clean and safe and livable for our children and for all of God's children," he told a group of 200 people gathered at the downtown public library in Des Moines. "But in recent years, science has made it undeniably clear that our generation is not living up to this responsibility. Global warming is not a someday problem, it is now."

This is one way Obama is finding the common values and attempting to bring people on both sides together.

At Least He Will Try to Follow One of Them

From Political Wire...

"I'm going to try to follow that commandment as much as I can."

-- Rudy Giuliani, quoted by the AP on Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment, "Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican."

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Hillary Comes to Town, Let's Cover the Anti-Abortion Protesters

Hillary Clinton came to Marshalltown last Monday and spoke on the Courthouse Square. The Marshalltown Times Republican covered the event and in Tuesday's edition ran a story on the front page. However, above the fold was a picture of three anti-abortion protesters that took up almost the entire top half of the paper and below the fold was a small picture of Hillary Clinton and the story about Hillary's event. The story included no mention of the protesters.

I know the people at the Times Republican might not agree with everything Clinton says, but did you really need to highlight the sideshow instead of covering the big news in town that day.

Colbert for President?

Stephen Colbert was invited to write Maureen Dowd's column in the New York Times this week. Colbert discusses the possibility of running for President.

Our nation is at a Fork in the Road. Some say we should go Left; some say go Right. I say, “Doesn’t this thing have a reverse gear?” Let’s back this country up to a time before there were forks in the road — or even roads. Or forks, for that matter. I want to return to a simpler America where we ate our meat off the end of a sharpened stick.

Let me regurgitate: I know why you want me to run, and I hear your clamor. I share Americans’ nostalgia for an era when you not only could tell a man by the cut of his jib, but the jib industry hadn’t yet fled to Guangdong. And I don’t intend to tease you for weeks the way Newt Gingrich did, saying that if his supporters raised $30 million, he would run for president. I would run for 15 million. Cash.

Nevertheless, I am not ready to announce yet — even though it’s clear that the voters are desperate for a white, male, middle-aged, Jesus-trumpeting alternative.

What do I offer? Hope for the common man. Because I am not the Anointed or the Inevitable. I am just an Average Joe like you — if you have a TV show.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Edwards Calls for Campaign Finance Reform

I watched a townhall meeting in Keene, New Hampshire on CSPAN where John Edwards outlined One Democracy Initiative that would return power in Washington to regular people and limit the influence of special interests. Edwards' plan was based on campaign finance reform, ending the power of lobbyisits, and making the voting process more secure.

The part that really caught my attention was his plan on campaign finance reform.

John Edwards believes elections should be about ideas rather than money. Few Americans can afford to make $4,600 contributions to gain access to presidential candidates, and the integrity of our campaign financing system depends upon smaller donors continuing to play an important role in the political process. Edwards' campaign is built upon the support of small donors, in fact, 93 percent of the campaign's donations come from donors contributing less than $100. As president, Edwards will create a new Grassroots Presidential Financing System to match small donations under $100 by eight to one, making two $100 donations as valuable to a campaign as a single $1,000 donation. He will also reduce the maximum contribution from $2,300 to $1,000 per person, to better reflect the incomes of most Americans. Edwards will create a system of full public financing for Congressional candidates and require corporations to disclose their political activity and spending.
It is great to see Edwards putting forth specifics on how he would change the game in Washington. Ending the power of big money in Washington and stopping the influence of lobbyists sounds good, but Edwards is showing exactly how he will accomplish this.

Edwards will be campaigning in 17 counties in Iowa next week. If you attend any events, make sure to ask him about campaign finance reform.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Obama Finally Calls Out Hillary By Name

In a speech today in Des Moines, Barack Obama finally used Hillary Clinton's name when trying to differentiate himself from the front runner.

A couple of months ago, Senator Clinton called me "naïve and irresponsible" for taking this position, and said that we could lose propaganda battles if we met with leaders we didn't like. Just yesterday, though, she called for diplomacy with Iran without preconditions. So I'm not sure if any of us knows exactly where she stands on this. But I can tell you this: when I am President of the United States, the American people and the world will always know where I stand.
Earlier this week, while campaigning in New Hampshire, Obama was talking about the differences between him and some in this race.
There are some in this race who actually make the argument that the more time you spend immersed in the broken politics of Washington, the more likely you are to change it. I always find this a little amusing. I know that change makes for good campaign rhetoric, but when these same people had the chance to actually make it happen, they didn’t lead.
It was clear he was talking about Hillary, but Obama would not take that next step and just say her name. It is about time Obama strongly attempts to point out the distinctions between and the front runner.

I will be covering Obama's event in Marshalltown this evening and will see if he continues to use this language of if you goes back to his vague references to Hillary.

Clinton's Slipperiness on Trade Issues

Conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer wrote a column about Hillary Clinton's slippery stance on trade issues.

Bill Clinton's greatest domestic achievement, aside from abolishing welfare, was free trade. The crown jewel was the North American Free Trade Agreement. He got that through Congress over sustained union opposition in 1993. Monday, Sen. Hillary Clinton proposed that NAFTA and other existing trade agreements be reassessed every five years.

The Post correctly called Hillary's retreat from free trade " opportunism under pressure," the pressure being the rampant and popular protectionism of her presidential rivals, particularly in protectionist Iowa. But while "opportunism under pressure" suggests ( pace Hemingway) cowardice, the better description of Clintonism is slipperiness. Adaptability. Cynicism, if you like.

Note her clever use of terms. Reassessing NAFTA sounds great to protectionists, but it is perfectly ambiguous. It could mean abolition or radical curtailment. It could also mean establishing a study commission whose recommendations might not reach President Hillary Clinton's desk until too late in her second term.

Krauthammer then issues an endorsement of Clinton because of her slipperiness on the issues.
I could never vote for her, but I (and others of my ideological ilk) could live with her -- precisely because she is so liberated from principle. Her liberalism, like her husband's -- flexible, disciplined, calculated, triangulated -- always leaves open the possibility that she would do the right thing for the blessedly wrong (i.e., self-interested, ambition-serving, politically expedient) reason.
If there were ever a reason to not vote for Hillary Clinton, it is the reasons Krauthammer points out. Clinton is ambiguous, calculated, triangulated, and flexible on many of the mainstream issues like trade. We need a Democrat who believes in opportunism under principle, not opportunism under pressure.

Only a U.S. Withdrawal Will Stop Al Qaeda in Iraq

Last week, I wrote about a quote by Seymour Hersch that said...

The fuel that keeps the war going is us.
Then yesterday, I found this article written by Raed Jarrar and Joshua Holland called Only a U.S. Withdrawal Will Stop Al Qaeda in Iraq.

One of the last justifications for continuing the U.S. occupation of Iraq despite overwhelming opposition from Iraqis, Americans and the rest of humanity has come down to this: U.S. forces must remain in order to battle "al Qaeda in Iraq."

Like so many of the arguments presented in the United States, the idea is not only intellectually bankrupt, it's also the 180-degree opposite of reality. The truth of the matter is that only the presence of U.S. forces allows the group called "al Qaeda in Iraq" (AQI) to survive and function, and setting a timetable for the occupation to end is the best way to beat them. You won't hear that perspective in Washington, but according to Iraqis with whom we spoke, it is the conventional wisdom in much of the country.

The Bush administration has made much of what it calls "progress" in the Sunni-dominated provinces of central Iraq. But when we spoke to leaders there, the message we got was very different from what supporters of a long-term occupation claim: Many Sunnis are, indeed, lined up against groups like AQI, but that doesn't mean they are "joining" with coalition forces or throwing their support behind the Iraqi government.

Several sources we reached in the Sunni community agreed that AQI, a predominantly Sunni insurgent group that did not exist prior to the U.S. invasion -- it started in 2005 -- will not exist for long after coalition forces depart. AQI is universally detested by large majorities of Iraqis of all ethnic and sectarian backgrounds because of its fundamentalist interpretation of religious law and efforts to set up a separate Sunni state, and its only support -- and it obviously does enjoy some support -- is based solely on its opposition to the deeply unpopular U.S.-led occupation of Iraq.

And they sum it up by saying...
One of the central tenets of counter-insurgency is that a small group of active fighters can be a powerful force of opposition, but only if they have at least the passive support of the populace. The second the United States commits to a complete withdrawal of its forces, Al Qaeda in Iraq will become a pariah organization and its members will be killed, if they're lucky, or captured if they're not.
The only Presidential candidates that seem to completely understand this is Bill Richardson and Dennis Kucinich. I remember hearing Joe Biden touch on some aspects of this, but was unable to find any references to it.

By answering at the last debate in New Hampshire that they are uncertain if we will have troops out of Iraq by 2013, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards fail to see this.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Selden Spencer Will Not Be Running in Iowa's 4th District

I recieved a letter from the Selden Spencer campaign saying that Dr. Spencer will not be running for Congress in Iowa's 4th District. Spencer cited personal and professional reasons for his decision.

Dr. Spencer had this to say in the letter...

This remains a crucial time in our history, a time in which we struggle to regain the soul of our nation - an American spirit that respects all, works for the common good, and speaks truth and honesty to the multiple grave challenges that we face. Each of us has a role to play in this struggle. I urge you to continue to use your time, treasure, and energy to help achieve this goal for the sake of our children and the future of this great country we all love.

In 2006, the deck was stacked against Dr. Spencer's attempt to defeat Rep. Latham. Spencer entered the race late, he didn't get much support from the state party (because they were already investing in the 1st and 2nd districts and protecting Boswell's seat in the 3rd district), and he didn't have any name recognition at all. When put together, Spencer had a hard raising the money needed and a hard time getting his name out there to voters.

Spencer was also a first time candidate that was new to the campaign trial. However, Dr. Spencer passion and knowledge always was visable and as the campaign went along, he got more and more comfortable and became a more compelling speaker on the campaign trail.

With the experience he gained in 2006, Tom Latham's continued support for Bush's war in Iraq, and the fact Spencer was looking to get into the race earlier, I thought Spencer really had a shot of defeating Tom Latham in 2008.

Hopefully, Democrats in Iowa's 4th district will be able to find a candidate by the end of the year and build on the momentum that Dr. Spencer created to defeat Tom Latham.

Thank you, Dr. Spencer, for all the hard work and passion you poured into the making this country a better place.

Where did all of the Classy Republicans Go?

Where did all of the classy Republicans go?

Not New York.

Rep. McKinley Bailey Endorses Biden

Rep. McKinley Bailey, an Iraq War Vet, will endorse Joe Biden. Bailey served 5 years in the United States Army. While McKinley was a paratrooper with the elite 82nd Airborne Division he led his Tactical Signals Intelligence Intercept Team on more than 120 combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Bailey released this statement about the endorsement...

After returning from serving in Iraq, I quickly grew frustrated by my impression that leaders in both political parties did not understand the fundamental challenges to ending the war in Iraq," Bailey says in a statement. "When I first learned of Sen. Biden's plan, I realized that was the ticket - a political solution, not a military one. I am endorsing him because from day one, our next president must make decisions on the direction in Iraq and I am convinced Senator Biden has the knowledge and experience to bring our troops home without leaving a situation that requires another generation of Americans to return in a decade.
Here's some video of Bailey discussing the endorsement.

Marc Ambinder thinks this might make Biden more viable among younger voters...
Iowa Democratic caucus goers skew older...and Mr. Biden's demographic is probably older than older, but young Mr. Bailey might open up a new vista: all those young Democrats that Barack Obama is trying to bring into the system.

Iowa Progress is reporting that McKinley Bailey's father, who is a county supervisor, is not only supporting Barack Obama, but is on Obama's statewide leadership team.

"History Will Prove Me Right"

I have been watching a lot of the baseball playoffs and when I saw this quote, I had to laugh.

"I made my arguments and went down in flames. History will prove me right," - Texas Rangers owner George W. Bush after voting against realignment and a new wild-card system during a Major League Baseball owners meeting in September 1993. Bush was the lone dissenter in a 27-1 vote.

Leaking Intelligence Info to Keep the Threat Level High

This is just amazing and is yet another example of the Bush administration using terror threats to keep a constant sense of fear among the public instead of doing everything they can to keep us safe.

A small private intelligence company that monitors Islamic terrorist groups obtained a new Osama bin Laden video ahead of its official release last month, and around 10 a.m. on Sept. 7, it notified the Bush administration of its secret acquisition. It gave two senior officials access on the condition that the officials not reveal they had it until the al-Qaeda release...A copy posted around 3 p.m. on Fox News's Web site referred to SITE and included page markers identical to those used by the group. "This confirms that the U.S. government was responsible for the leak of this document."

As Hunter said, "When your entire foreign policy expertise is based on leaking information to Fox News in order to keep the population in a constant state of low-level fear, sometimes you have to blow actual intelligence information in order to do it."

Keith Olbermann discussed this with a counter-terrorism expert, Evan Kohlman, on his show Tuesday.

OLBERMANN: ...when something like this happens, and it‘s not the first time, do you sit there in your office and say I‘m not sure this administration wants to actually do that grind-it-out work of counterterrorism. It just wants to see nice headlines about what a great job they are doing?

KOHLMANN: There does seem to be unfortunate tendency that when there are victories in the war on terrorism or a speech by Osama bin Laden or something really, you know, that generates fear, there seems to be a tendency to focus on that, rather than focusing on the kind of more nuanced here is al Qaeda, here is what they are planning, here is what they have said.

We don‘t want to resort to hysteria. And the last thing we want to do is spread al Qaeda‘s message the way that they want us to which is spreading a transcript to the American people. There was nothing in this bin Laden video that had any value that Americans needed to read it then and there. So, to help distribute it to Americans, you are just helping al Qaeda in their mission.

I can't wait to hear's Sporer's attempt to spin this one.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What Would Karl Rove Do About SCHIP?

Comedy Central's Indecision 08 asks what would Karl Rove do about the SCHIP veto?

Here's the list...

Attack opponent's strength: Fund a Swift-Boat Wet Nurses for Truth commercial: "Children are the leading cause of pedophilia. Why do the Democrats want more inappropriate touching?"

Leak information: Tell a Time magazine reporter that most of these children are "little terrors" who, if allowed to live, will cripple our education, military training and prison resources.

Purge the ranks: Have the Attoney General fire everyone who ever got sick as a child.

Press Red State buttons: "Children are naked products of Original Sin who suck on your wives' exposed nipples! Let them live -- or die -- with their lifestyle choices."

Prey on fear: "Did you know that more than 99% of all children born in the U.S. enter our country without papers, without employment, without names even? They'll replace us in our jobs and overtake our cities. In seventy years time, this country will be controlled completely by these children."

Blame the liberal media: "The kid-controlled media doesn't tell you that SCHIP takes money from cigarettes and the war, both of which, by killing people, lower the cost of health care for everyone."

Smokescreen: This is only Bush's 4th veto. He has to use them all up. They're like vacation days.

Whisper campaigns: Ask everyone, "Would you be more or less likely to support expansion of SCHIP if you knew these children were al-Qaeda operatives with secret black babies?"

How Green is Toyota?

Congress is putting together the final energy bill that will go to the President to be signed. One of the issues they are debating is fuel economy and raising the CAFE standards.

Toyota, highly known for producing fuel efficient vehicles, is saying the CAFE standards will be too high.

But now Toyota is teaming up with Detroit's Big Three to scuttle legislation that would raise fuel economy standards to 35 miles per gallon by 2020 -- a technologically feasible, and urgently needed step for a country President Bush has admitted is "addicted to oil." When our nation is contributing more C02 pollution than any other -- and fueling the global climate crisis -- isn't it the reasonable thing to do to perhaps, I don't know, become more efficient?

For those customers who bought the Prius long before it was "cool" and thought they were investing in Toyota's vision of a gas-sipping fleet, this latest move is insulting. It's a slap in the face to every driver who has helped make Toyota the first foreign company to surpass all the American car companies in sales. We believed the company when it said it was a leader, that it had a vision to sell a million hybrids a year and make its fleet 100 percent hybrid, that it wanted to help move America beyond our addiction to oil. And now this?
The article is right when they say Toyota is not leading on this issue. Right now Toyota is dominating the market on fuel efficient vehicles. If the CAFE standards are raised and everyone else is forced to make cars that get better gas mileage then that cuts into Toyota's market. Toyota is trying to save some green, unfortunately the green they are trying to save is money.

Get the Skinny on Your Town

Here's a interesting website, called ZIPskinny, that gives you tons of demographic information based on your ZIP code and lets you compare your ZIP code to areas around you.

Here's the info on where I live.